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Energy corridors draw criticism 

A draft government designation of more than 6,000 miles of energy transportation corridors through 11 Western states found a crescendo of criticism and no support at a hearing on a multi-agency preliminary environmental impact statement.

The corridors would average 3,500 feet in width and carry pipelines to transport such fuels as oil, gas, liquefied natural gas and hydrogen. The options presented at Tuesday’s hearing, one of 16 scheduled across the West by the Feb. 14 deadline for public comment, were presented as acceptance or no action. Many said the corridor plan ignores much of what concerns Oregonians, including endangered species, conservation, old-growth timber issues, property rights and subservience to what Susan Hansen, an organic farmer and wildlife conservationist from Molalla, called ‘‘greedy deceitful energy developers.’’ The plan is a ‘‘wholesale disregard of Oregon concerns,’’ she told a sparse audience that included two uniformed police officers. Dave Willis of the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council called it a capitalist profit-driven ‘‘mega-nightmare’’ that would threaten habitats in the Siskiyou Mountains already weakened by Interstate-5. Running the wide corridors through existing 100 or 200-foot-wide energy rights of way, he said, is akin to ‘‘a python swallowing a brontosaurus.’’ President Bush’s vow to be a uniter, not a divider, has come true, he said, because the corridor proposal ‘‘is a program everyone can hate.’’ Nobody testified in favor during the afternoon session and none had signed up to do so for the evening portion. Many angrily criticized what they saw as a ‘‘take it or leave it’’ attitude that leaves room for discussion or revision.

‘‘We were told by Congress what to analyze’’ and to identify corridors, said Ron Montagna, a real estate specialist and chief of rights-of-way management for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and said conservation was not included. ‘‘They told us what to do and we did it. We were responding to a legislative mandate.’’

He said some modifications or deletions may be possible but that major changes in the overall scope of the draft as of now are unlikely.

The process to designate corridors in the other 39 states starts later this year.

Section 368 of the energy act directs the secretaries of Defense, Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Interior to designate the corridors in the 11 states not including Alaska or Hawaii to improve electric reliability and reduce transmission congestion.

Chris Len, an attorney for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlife Center, said the plan needs more work. The corridors are lines on a map, he said, with no indication of where they connect.

‘‘Small lines disappear. Where do they go?’’ he asked. He and other witnesses complained that the plan is dedicated to moving fossil fuels and does not consider renewable energy such as wind and solar at a time when renewable energy is being stressed.

‘‘It’s hard to see which Western constituencies support this,’’ said Amy Atwood, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity. Such a constituency, she charged, lies in Wall Street and Washington, D.C. and intends ‘‘to sell off as much public land as possible.’’ before public outcry stops it.

She said there were no climate considerations and inadequate consideration of listed species.

There is no discussion of how to avoid going through old-growth timber, said Daniel Sears of Columbia Riverkeeper.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


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